The Hilliard Davidson High School girls volleyball team endured an injury-riddled season, but its perseverance paid off with a third consecutive trip to a Division I district semifinal.

The Hilliard Davidson High School girls volleyball team endured an injury-riddled season, but its perseverance paid off with a third consecutive trip to a Division I district semifinal.

The 21st-seeded Wildcats finished 11-13 overall after losing to second-seeded DeSales 25-11, 25-20, 25-15 on Oct. 28 at Whitehall.

Davidson lost three key performers over the course of the season, beginning with sophomore outside hitter Lauren Sampson to a knee injury in the second match. Also sidelined were senior middle hitter/right-side hitter Emily Landenberger (dislocated shoulder) and junior outside hitter Maria Balcer (hip).

"Our motto this year was 'next man up.' We probably had a different look," said coach Betty Cameron, who completed her 17th season. "Some of them got thrown to the fire. They had no choice. They did pretty well for a situation where they didn't have much time to prepare.

"They made big improvements throughout the season, but missing the (junior varsity) level experience before coming to varsity sometimes came back to hurt us. It was difficult going through the growing pains, but they worked hard and all got along. They kept pushing."

Davidson opened the postseason by defeating 17th-seeded Hamilton Township 18-25, 25-21, 15-25, 25-21, 16-14 in a second-round match Oct. 22.

The Wildcats finished fifth (7-7) in the OCC-Central Division, behind Dublin Coffman (14-0), Olentangy Liberty (12-2), Marysville (9-5) and Upper Arlington (8-6) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (3-11), Westland (2-12) and Central Crossing (1-13).

Davidson is losing two seniors in Landenberger and outside hitter/right-side hitter Skylar Mix (honorable mention all-league).

Junior middle hitter Kendyl Paris (first-team all-district and all-league) and junior defensive specialist Ari Sherzai (honorable mention all-district) lead the expected returnees.

Others expected to return include juniors Lauren Balster (middle hitter/opposite hitter), Maria Jackson (defensive specialist), Izzy Jimenez (defensive specialist) and Aubrey Rolon (defensive specialist), sophomores Sydney George (outside hitter), Alli Maughan (outside hitter/middle hitter), Rachel Wegener (defensive specialist) and Kelsey Zody (setter) and freshmen Emilee Fecht (middle hitter) and Megan Westbrook (defensive specialist).

Panthers fall in district semifinal

Darby finished 14-11 overall after losing to top-seeded Coffman 25-12, 25-8, 25-16 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 29 at Whitehall.

It was the second time in three seasons that the 19th-seeded Panthers had reached a district semifinal and only the third time in program history. Their first semifinal appearance was in 2004.

Darby opened the postseason by defeating 27th-seeded Centennial 25-19, 25-4, 25-18 in the first round Oct. 20. It then defeated 26th-seeded Licking Heights 24-26, 25-15, 21-25, 25-20, 15-11 in a second-round match Oct. 22.

The Panthers finished third (10-4) in the OCC-Cardinal, behind Westerville Central (14-0) and Dublin Scioto (12-2) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (6-8), Canal Winchester (7-7), Bradley (4-10), Westerville South (2-12) and Westerville North (1-13).

Darby is losing two seniors in middle hitter Monica Carsey (45 blocks) and outside hitter Madelyn Kucinic (120 kills).

"Madelyn and Monica are two of the most selfless kids I have coached. They gave their best every day," said coach Joe Ross, who completed his second season. "They also were encouraging to their teammates. The players that will be returning next year are in such a good place because they had the opportunity to be around our seniors."

Leading the expected returnees is junior setter Kali Apelt (second-team all-district, first-team all-league), who had 642 assists, 273 digs, 47 aces and 39 blocks.

Sophomore outside hitter Madison Smith (second-team all-league) had 269 kills, and sophomore libero Cambron Hampton (honorable mention all-league) had 272 digs.

Also expected to return are junior Emily Craycraft (defensive specialist), sophomores Lauren Chance (middle hitter; 50 blocks), Quinn Coppess (middle hitter; 179 kills), Paige Kucinic (outside hitter), Anita Perie (defensive specialist; 271 digs, 40 aces) and Amila Sherzai (defensive specialist) and freshman Annie Rauch (middle hitter).